British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged 5 million pounds ($7.7 million) Sunday to confront the “poison” of extremism in the country. The move, which comes less than a month after four British nationals were hit with United Nations’ counterterrorism sanctions, is aimed at providing “credible alternative narratives to the dangerous views propagated by extremists.”
“We need to systematically confront and challenge extremism and the ideologies that underpin it, exposing the lies and the destructive consequences it leaves in its wake,” Cameron said in a statement. “We have to stop it at the start -- stop this seed of hatred even being planted in people’s minds and cut off the oxygen it needs to grow.”
The funds will be used to build a “national coalition” against extremism, and support local initiatives, campaigns and charitable organizations -- both online and within communities.
Over the past year, approximately 700 British nationals have traveled to Syria and Iraq to provide support to, or fight for, militant groups in the region, including the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS. The most infamous among them is Mohammed Emwazi -- a former Londoner who has been dubbed “Jihadi John” and has appeared in at least seven execution videos released by ISIS, including one depicting the beheading of American journalist James Foley.
Last month, four British nationals were placed in a U.N. sanctions list -- the first such instance since 2006 -- for supporting ISIS.
The monetary pledge comes on the eve of the launch of a new counterterrorism strategy -- scheduled to be unveiled by Cameron later Monday. Under the new measures, parents will be able to ask for their children’s passports to be canceled if they believe their sons or daughters want to travel abroad to join militant groups. In addition, anyone with a conviction for “extremist activity” will be automatically barred from working with children and vulnerable people. The new measures will also place bans on radical preachers posting materials online.
“The government’s new Counter-Extremism Strategy is a clear signal of the choice we have made to take on this poisonous ideology,” Cameron will announce Monday. “And a key part of this new approach is going further to protect children and vulnerable people from the risk of radicalization by empowering parents and public institutions with all the advice, tools and practical support they need.”